People, Planet and Profit

— triple bottom line…

It’s a sunny August afternoon in 2010. I’m with my wife and some close friends at the Arts and Social Justice Festival: Greenbelt. In the Big Top, there’s a singer-songwriter who is rumoured to make grown men cry.

Foy Vance does not disappoint. By the end of the first song, I have tears streaming down my face. There is something about his intensity, his turning up fully from the first note. He seems not to perform for acclaim, but because he is born to, it is his aliveness that he offers us his gift. I have since seen him perform on numerous occasions; each time moved to tears and beckoned into his world of musicality, story, rebellion and community.

12 years on and I’m watching the highlights of the Glastonbury Festival, Guy Garvey of Elbow is conducting the crowd of thousands in a rendition of One Day Like This. It’s pure genius, pure magic. I am in awe- not just of the band and their ability to woo a crowd into a love affair of sound and connection- but of the music itself. How did we learn to make such sounds? What divine consciousness flows in and through our minds, bodies and emotions that enable us to create this nectar to feed the ears and soul?

A week later I sit and watch the incredible film Pride. I weep with my wife and daughter as the miners and their families sing together of their home and land. At that moment they are one, connected and joined with a depth and empathy often experienced within the space of collective singing. We have done many amazing things as humans and for me, music is one of those achievements that I hope will always endure. Music is a symbol of our soul, our ingenuity, our creativity and our passion. For me, music is one of the pinnacles of humanness.

There are many other pinnacles; I’m writing this while travelling 75 meters down below the seabed and 115 meters below sea level in the deepest part of the Euro Tunnel. What an incredible feat, 50.46 Km long and the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world! Wow, we have come some way; sharpening flint to make arrowheads to digging 50.56 Km tunnels. As a species we are clever… but… not that clever.

I am often reminded of a quote by a good friend of mine, Tim Malnick;


Human beings have done many clever things. We have put men on the moon, invented computers, split the atom and created pizza. But we have not yet found a way to give every human on the planet a decent, safe and healthy life without destroying life on the planet.


We are clever…but…not that clever!

In the 1990s an idea emerged called the triple bottom line.

It was an attempt to encourage corporations to be clever in a different kind of way, to pay attention not only to profit but also to social and environmental outcomes. The notion was that a successful organisation would commit to and measure success in all three areas in a deeply connected and holistic way.

Here we are in 2022 and B Corp, The Doughnut Economics Action Lab and many similar organisations have picked up the mantle, exhorting us to find this balance not for the sake of feeling smug, but for the sake of the future generations.

Planet, People, Profit

People, Profit, Planet

Profit, Planet, People

Profit, People, Planet

People, Planet, Profit

Planet, Profit, People 

I often wonder in which order these appear in the organisations I am involved in. I also wonder how they appear in my life; how they shape my decisions; define my priorities.  I suspect the order we choose now will be written into the songs and poems of our children. I hope they will be singing of our brave choices, and that tears will roll down thousands of faces as they continue to join in celebrating One Day Like This.

If you are curious about how you and your organisation can use this idea of a triple bottom line to shape your decisions and priorities, please contact me for an initial conversation.

If you want to read another article about the vision for ethical business, check out the article When I Wake.

Or if you want to discuss further –

lets talk